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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beef and Stout (Guinness) "Casserole"

This is from a casserole cookbook called Bake Until Bubbly by Clifford A. Wright, but it's really more of an Irish stew that's baked in the oven. I like to double the recipe because it's time-consuming (3 1/2 hours start to finish), and freeze half or give half away, as I did recently to a couple with a newborn.

It's worth every minute and all the knife work.
Be sure to have some crusty bread for sopping up the savory sauce.

Beef and Stout
(not doubled)

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. lean Irish bacon or Canadian bacon (which I use), cubed 
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
One 12-oz. bottle stout beer (such as Guinness)
1 pound small white onions, about 14, peeled OR 2 medium onions cut into eighths
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs marjoram, 6 sprigs parsley tied in cheesecloth. . . or just thrown into the pot as I do)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat, then brown the beef and bacon on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Discard any accumulated fat and juices in the skillet.

Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the stout, stirring until gravy is smooth.

Place beef, bacon and onions in a 12-by-9-by-2 baking casserole or 10-inch round baking casserole (for a doubled recipe, I used a large dutch oven). Sprinkle with the parsley and marjoram, season with salt and pepper, and add garlic and bouquet garni/herbs. Mix well. Sprinkle the top with the sugar and pour the gravy over the beef. Stir again to mix well. Cover and bake until the meat if very tender, about 3 hours. Removed from the oven and stir in the vinegar. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Note: For some reason I was worried about how much sauce there would be this time, and stirred in a jar of "beef gravy" before putting the pot into the oven. I wondered if this lame addition (why did I even have that in my pantry?) would affect the flavor, but it seemed no harm was done.

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